Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania (Photo by Billy Hathorn)

Scranton, Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna College has launched an innovative offering where high school students get a jump start on higher education.

Through the school’s recently-announced Level Up program, students in four partnering school districts in northeastern Pennsylvania can pursue learning pathways to complete an Associate’s Degree or gain credits towards a Bachelor’s degree.

Prior to graduation, participating students will engage in postsecondary coursework via a combination of online classes and afternoon, evening, and summer classes hosted at the high school campuses.

While announcing the program, Lackawanna President Mark Volk recognized the need to provide students with faster and less expensive learning channels. He said, “Our administration is deeply cognizant of the financial barriers to higher education that the students of our region, and their families, face. We felt a responsibility to our local communities to help make things easier.” He added that students need “a variety of options to earn a degree quickly at a significant cost savings.”

By hosting the coursework at area high schools, Lackawanna will deliberately deliver the instruction to the students, Volk explained. “Instead of the old model of…the students trying to figure out where you are and come to you, we think it’s much better if we come to them and then help bring them to where they need to be.”

Associate’s Degree majors include Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Professional Studies. Tuition for these programs is $6,200, likely much lower than that of a traditional Associate’s program.

For students interested in gaining transferable credits to a four-year program, Level Up offers certificates in areas such as Business, Healthcare, and General Education. The school says these credits “will save students at least one semester of college work.”

Lackawanna’s new program reflects a growing, nationwide trend towards creating “early college” experiences for high school students.